High Quality arts & crafts that support local communities have become a mainstay of Swaziland.
The country should be of particular interest to those travellers wishing to see the best Africa has to offer. Although tiny, the Kingdom has a rich heritage of stylish, high quality handicrafts, which grace boutique outlets around the world, yet are produced by community-focused ecologically and socially responsible organisations.
Ngwenya Glass is a business that creates stunning products for the home using 100% recycled glass as their raw material, disused engine and cooking oil to fuel their furnaces and old newspapers to shape and pack the glass. Building upon Swaziland’s indisputable reputation for arts and crafts, Ngwenya Glass is a must-see experience.
They also work with the local schools to teach the children how important a sense of environmental awareness is. In exchange for building materials and the sponsorship of the soccer team, the students must participate in roadside cleanup campaigns.
Today, visitors can watch the glass blowing process, and buy beautifully hand-finished products from the showroom – including tableware, drinking glasses, vases, and African animals of all sizes.
Learn more on how Ngwenya Glass began and discover the fascinating art created by the glass-blowers in this beautifully made video:
Swaziland is also home to Gone Rural, a handicraft company that solely employs women from some of the most remote areas of Swaziland, empowering and providing income for them. Producing everything from fashion, to lighting, to sculpture and accessories, Gone Rural is one of the most popular handicraft companies in Swaziland.
Similarly, KhoKho, a boutique handbag company also made by local women is thriving; it’s not only supporting the community by producing an income, but ensuring their long-held tradition is carried on through generations as the designs incorporate traditional weaving techniques. KhoKho has been featured in Vogue, Elle and this month’s Condé Nast Traveller proving its popularity around the globe.
With mohair weavers, jewellery makers, candle sculptors and many more highly skilled Swazi artisans exporting around the world, the opportunity to see them at work in the country that inspires them, and to learn the stories behind their wonderful creations is one not to be missed.
Being just a 50-minute flight, or a 4-hour scenic drive from Johannesburg, Swaziland should be a first choice for an excursion whilst visiting South Africa.